Libya: Two Parliaments Define A New Civil War


August 25, 2014: The newly elected (and much more anti-Islamic terrorist) parliament is now operating in Tobruk, far away from the violence in the two largest cities; Tripoli (the capital and 1,600 kilometers west of Tobruk) and Benghazi (in the east and long dominated by Islamic terrorist groups.) Parliament has condemned the militias, especially the Islamic terrorist ones and called for NATO (or any international body, like the UN) to come back and help impose peace. The parliament has singled out Islamic terrorist groups Fajr Libya (based in Misrata as the Misrata Union of Revolutionaries) and Ansar al Sharia (based in Benghazi) as most responsible for the current violence. Most government officials have moved from Tripoli to Tobruk. Only 19 percent of eligible voters and 27 percent of registered voters showed up for the June 25 th parliamentary elections (the since Kaddafi was overthrown in 2011). Voters were discouraged by all the violence, factionalism and poor performance of those elected the first time around.

Fajr Libya has asked the Islamic terrorist dominated GNC (originally formed in mid-2012 to create a new constitution for the country to vote on and rule until that was done) to reform and meet in Tripoli to run the country. The revived GNC is supposed to have its first meeting today. The GNC was replaced in June by a new parliament. At the end of 2013 the deadlocked GNC extended its power for another year. This was seen by many Libyans as an illegal act. The GNC pointed out that separatist activity in the east prevented any national vote and that had to be dealt with before a constitution could be completed and approved. This was an impossible situation for the GNC and the Islamic radicals were hoping to take advantage of it. The various factions in the GNC could not agree on much, although there was a consensus that the new constitution would use Islamic (Sharia) law. This was an effort to placate the many Islamic conservative groups. This made local Christians (native Copts, who have been Christian and present for 2,000 years and are five percent of the population) nervous. The GNC has become popular with Islamic terrorist militias and some tribal and more secular groups. The GNC has long had the support of most Islamic radical groups, especially Ansar al Sharia in Benghazi. This group was responsible for the 2012 attack that killed the American ambassador. Many of the militias from Misrata (east of Tripoli) support GNC, but many also back rebel general Hiftar or are neutral. Because the GNC has been hijacked by the Islamic radicals Hiftar sees it as illegitimate. Even many Islamic terrorists don’t trust the parliament or the GNC. The Hiftar coalition of tribal militias and army units is not large enough to take on all the Islamic terrorist militias but continues to make progress in Benghazi. Hiftar supports the new parliament and rule of law.

The main problem in Libya is many armed groups that cannot agree with each other. There appear to be over 1,500 different armed groups in Libya. Most are local and exist mainly for self- defense. Only a minority (under ten percent) of these militias are involved in the current violence in Tripoli and Benghazi. Most of the militias are organized into coalitions, mainly for mutual support and because of some shared beliefs. The largest of these is the Misrata Union of Revolutionaries. This group has over 30,000 armed members and about 200 different militias in and around the city of Misrata. Then there is Ansar al Sharia, the largest Islamic terrorist group in Benghazi. This group was responsible for the 2012 attack that killed the American ambassador and has most of its strength in the east (around Benghazi). The al Zintan Revolutionaries Military Council is based in the mountains southwest of Tripoli in and around the Berber town of Zintan. The LROR (Libyan Revolutionary Operations Room) is a pro-government militia that has been trying to maintain control in Tripoli and Benghazi. The February 17 Martyrs Brigade it the largest and most dangerous Islamic terrorist coalition in and around Benghazi. In theory February 17 Martyrs Brigade works for the government as they are on the government payroll. At the moment this coalition has divided loyalties. Most militias are not associated with a coalition and primarily involved with local matters.

Despite all the chaos in Tripoli and Benghazi the government has managed to get oil exports going again. Oil production has increased to over 500,000 barrels a day which is about 40 percent of normal output. This is a high for 2014 and is threatened by various militias talking about blocking production in order to get a larger share of oil money. In June production was closer to 100,000 barrels a day but government negotiators have had a lot of success since then getting various militias to stop blockading production and shipping facilities. Unfortunately these deals often collapse later and new pressure groups decide to try and blockade something and succeed at it. 

All the fighting in the last month has left up to a 500 dead, many of them civilians caught in the crossfire. This is not as violent as Syria or Iraq, but more like what is going on in Nigeria and Somalia, which also suffer from Islamic terrorist violence (Boko Haram and al Shabaab respectively). Over a million Libyans and foreign workers have fled their homes (and often the country) so far, to escape the violence in Tripoli and Benghazi.

August 24, 2014: Unidentified jets again bombed Islamic terrorist positions in Tripoli. General Hiftar, who has long had the support of what’s left of the Libyan Air Force, claimed responsibility for these attacks. No one else (NATO or Arab) has taken responsibility. Foreign aviation experts doubt that the Libyan air force could have made these quite accurate night attacks. The Libyan Air Force never demonstrated this degree of competence when it was fighting the rebels who overthrew Kaddafi in 2011.

Islamic terrorists attacked and destroyed TV station in Tripoli that opposed Islamic terrorists.

August 23, 2014: Islamic terrorist group Fajr Libya, from Misrata) seized control of most of the airport and over the next two days most of the key airport buildings could be seen burning. Insurance companies fear that the airport damage will be more than a billion dollars (to structures and airliners stranded there).  Zintan militias had long controlled the Tripoli airport, which they are trying to defend from Islamic terrorist militias. The government has been trying for over a year to get the militias out of the airport, where the militiamen are more interested in extortion and stealing than in providing any security. Fajr Libya also controls most of Benghazi, along with Ansar al Sharia.

August 22, 2014: Unidentified jets again bombed Islamic terrorist positions in Tripoli. Islamic terrorists accused the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and Egypt of being behind these air raids but offered no proof.

August 21, 2014: Tunisia and Egypt banned flights to or from Libya, except for Tobruk. There is fear that all major airports in Libya, except the one at Tobruk, are subject to attack by Islamic terrorist militias.

August 19, 2014: In the eastern city of Derna an Islamic terrorist group used a sports stadium for a public execution. The victim was an Egyptian accused of killing a Libyan. The execution was videoed and posted on the Internet. In Tripoli rockets were fired into an affluent residential neighborhood, killing three people. Elsewhere in Tripoli government forces shut down two TV stations that had been supporting Islamic terrorist groups since July.

August 18, 2014: Unidentified jets again bombed Islamic terrorist positions in Tripoli.

August 16, 2014: A ship hired by the Filipino government evacuated 449 Filipinos from Libya. This ship will pick up another 610 Filipinos at another Libyan port and take them all to Malta, where they can fly home. The government ordered a mandatory evacuation of Filipinos from war torn Libya on July 20th and has hired enough ships to get out the 3,000 who have agreed to leave. Some 13,000 Filipinos work in Libya and the fighting is most acute in the two largest cities (Tripoli and Benghazi). This is where most Filipino workers are fleeing from. The loss of some 3,000 departing Filipinos has crippled the Libyan health care system. That’s because most of the medical professionals in the hospitals are from the Philippines (60 percent) and India (20 percent) and most of them are leaving. Both countries have ordered all their citizens out because of the growing chaos and violence. Without the foreign doctors, nurses and technicians most hospitals would have only a few such essential staff and would not be able to handle current patients much less new ones from the fighting. Despite the evacuation order most (over 75 percent) of the Filipino workers in Libya are staying, for now. These workers are in places where there is little, or no, violence.

August 13, 2014: The newly elected parliament, meeting in Tobruk, called on the UN or NATO to intervene. Parliament also voted for all militias to disband and withdrew all official recognition for militias. No one has expressed any interest in intervening and the militias are not paying attention to the new parliament either.

August 12, 2014: The newly elected parliament agreed that the next president would be chosen by direct election rather than by parliament. There was no agreement when this election would be held or on how to deal with the growing militia violence. In Tripoli unidentified gunmen murdered the police chief.

August 11, 2014:  In Egypt several thousand additional soldiers and dozens of armored vehicles have been sent to the Libyan border in the last week. This is all to deal with the growing smuggling activity there, much of it involving Islamic terrorist groups bringing in weapons stolen from army warehouses left unguarded during the 2011 revolution. Those weapons have been selling briskly on the black market in Egypt. The customers are gangsters, Islamic terrorists and people seeking some illegal protection.

August 4, 2014: The newly elected parliament met in Tobruk for the first time and swore in members and began the process of electing leaders. Over 80 percent of the 188 members of the new parliament have shown up in Tobruk. The new parliament is recognized by the UN and most major nations, even though these countries have shut down their embassies in Tripoli and withdrawn their diplomats.






Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contribute. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   contribute   Close